Canoe Storage

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Two people canoeing on a mountain lake with fir trees on the far shore.

The better you store your canoe, the longer it is likely to last (and look good). The single best advice is to store your canoe inside. If that's not possible, try to store it in a shaded location.


Protect Against the Sun

Sunlight can degrade just about any canoe hull material, from fiberglass to plastic to epoxy-coated wood—only aluminum canoes are safe. It can also damage wood gunwales and deck plates, as well as cause painted surfaces to fade or crack. Avoid it if at all possible!

If a shaded location is not available, use a tough, weather-resistant tarp or cover that's suspended above the hull (contact with the hull may promote mold or fungal growth in wet conditions) and entirely covering the boat.

Sprays such as McNett UV Tech can be applied to fiberglass, plastic and vinyl-skinned boats to significantly add to their from-the-factory UV protection. Apply a generous coating at the beginning of each season and prior to storing your boat for any long period of time to help shield it from sunlight and oxidation.


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Protect Against the Weather

Prolonged exposure to cold or wet weather can cause some hull materials to oxidize and/or degrade.

  • Again, storing your canoe indoors is the best protection.
  • If you store your boat outside, make sure it's protected from precipitation and that rain or snow can't collect in the tarp and press down on the hull.
  • If you store your boat outside or in an unheated building, be aware that repeated freezing and thawing can cause damage to fiberglass boats if water has seeped into seams, joints or cracks in the hull (it will expand and contract as it freezes and melts).
  • Extreme cold can damage wood gunwales and deck plates. Be sure to maintain all the wood pieces on your canoe as recommended by the manufacturer.


Protect Against Theft

The best way to protect your canoe against theft is to store it inside. If you must store it outdoors:

  • Keep it hidden from view as much as possible.
  • Position it so that it's difficult for a thief to grab it quickly and run.
  • In high-crime areas, thread a durable security cable through a sturdy part of the boat (like a thwart or carry handle) and connect it to a post, fence or building.


Protect Against Hull Damage

Most canoe hulls will deform or bend over time if exposed to uneven weight distribution. Plastic hulls are the most susceptible to damage, but fiberglass and wood-hulled boats can also fall victim over time.

Good practices:

  • Spread out the weight of the canoe over its entire length whenever you store it.
  • Support the boat at several points along its length, using padded cradles, angled surfaces and/or wide nylon straps that match the curve of the hull.

Practices to avoid:

  • Storing your canoe upside down on the ground, which is too harsh on the gunwales.
  • Supporting your canoe from its ends only.
  • Standing it up on one end.
  • Hanging it from its grab handles or thwarts.
  • Laying it down on its side on a flat surface for long periods of time.
  • Storing it near a significant heat source like a furnace or water heater.

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Additional Storage Tips

  • If you paddle in saltwater, be sure to rinse your boat thoroughly with fresh water before you store it. Saltwater can degrade hull materials and corrode metal parts.
  • Maintain all wooden gunwales and deck plates following the guidelines of the canoe manufacturer. Failure to do so may cause these pieces to dry out, crack, warp or weather during storage.